Dem Pollster: Reverse Losses with Young People or Lose in 2024

Advisors close to Biden’s reelection campaign are sounding the alarm that unless the party reverses the losses they’re experiencing with young people, Democrats will likely lose the 2024 election. 

John Della Volpe, a pollster at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics and one of Biden’s pollsters in 2020 is warning Democrats their 2024 election prospects are in jeopardy if young people refuse to support Democrats.    

In a recent substack post, Della Volpe warned, “in the simplest terms, when the Democratic party nominee for president garners 60% of the youth vote, Democrats win. Otherwise, it’s ugly for them.” The pollster went on to point out that Democrats lost voters over 45 in major battleground states in 2020 but managed to secure narrow victories thanks to voters under thirty. 

However, under thirties are no longer a reliable Democratic voting bloc. Polling data shows young people are increasingly less willing to identify as Democrats than they were even four years ago, with a growing share of Gen Z and younger Millennials identifying as Independents. 

Speaking about getting young people to “buy into” the Democratic Party’s values, Della Volpe told Politico, “I feel like it’s a responsibility to ring this alarm now, when there’s time to do something about it. These voters gotta buy into the values of the party and the candidates … and to appreciate the fact that politics can make a difference. You can’t do that in a full-week ad buy after Labor Day.” 

However, the issue goes far deeper than young people identifying as Independents. According to exit polls, Republicans have seen gains in support from younger age groups compared to the 2018 midterm elections. The GOP gained 7 points with 18–29-year-olds and 15 points with 30-44 year-olds between midterm elections. Democrats also lost voters 40–49 outright after winning them narrowly in 2018.

Former President Trump has also seen a huge upswing in popularity among young people in the past year. Trump’s approval rating has surged 14 points among Gen Z and 10 points among Millennials compared to last fall.  

Among GOP/Leaners under the age of 30, a full 66% express a strong desire for Trump to run again, marking the highest level of support across all age groups. Young people are increasingly enthusiastic about a Trump rerun, and Biden does not have the same level of enthusiasm. 

Young men are a particularly prickly thorn in the side of Democrats, with new research showing male high school seniors are twice as likely to identify as conservatives than liberals according to a national survey of 12th graders from the University of Michigan. 

The survey includes data going back as far as 1975 tracking the political ideology of young men and women entering the voter pool and found that since around 2010, the share of young men identifying as conservative has skyrocketed, while the share identifying as liberal has dropped to the lowest point on record. 

Gallup polling data from this spring corroborates these findings in voters under thirty, with the poll showing while 44% of young women aged 18-29 identify as liberal (the highest share in two decades), only a quarter of young men do so. 

While Gen Z generally holds more liberal stances on issues such as abortion and LGBTQ+ matters, young men hold significantly fewer liberal views than young women. Nearly half of  Gen Z voters want to expand abortion access but this sentiment is primarily driven by young women. Zoomer men exhibit less openness to expanding abortion access compared to Gen Z women. 

We also know there is a growing gender and age disparity between young men on cultural issues. A 2022 study from the Southern Poverty Law Center warned about the emergence of “right-wing extremism” among young men, including Democrats, who hold traditional views on gender.  

The study found nearly half of Democrat men under 50 believe that “gender ideology has corrupted American culture”, in contrast to only 20% of men over fifty. Younger Democrats are also much more concerned about the transgender movement impacting children, with 42% of younger Democrat men viewing transgenderism as a threat to children and 40% seeing it as an attempt to indoctrinate children.

Over the past five years, research conducted by the Americans for Limited Government Foundation has shown that Gen Z voters are veering more toward conservative and populist positions in comparison to Millennials. 

Although a majority of young people aren’t identifying as Republicans, a dwindling share are willing to identify as Democrats. More young people are choosing to identify as Independents, but a growing share are adopting conservative views on cultural issues, particularly young men. 

What is more, President Biden seems unable to maintain his support with young voters, with recent MSNBC polling showing Biden is down 14 points against Trump compared to 2020 exit polls with young people. Democrats are right to be worried about their losses with young people, but regardless of the left’s marketing campaign, young people are still wary of “buying into” the party’s platform. 

Manzanita Miller is an associate analyst at Americans for Limited Government Foundation. Reproduced with permission. Original here:

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